Take a look at the photo to the right. Then close your eyes and imagine a chess board on the table in front of him. Better Call Saul is like a long and elaborate game of chess.
I was given the opportunity to watch the first 4 episodes of Better Call Saul season 5 before they air on TV. I’m going to tell you what I think, without spoilers, and give you some reasons you should be watching this excellent show.
Better Call Saul season 5 Preview
Better Call Saul season 5 picks up right where we left off — in some cases, the very same day or hour. Jimmy is still at the courthouse and Gene is still making his way home from his trip to the emergency room. And Lalo is trying to figure out what he can glean from the few details Werner Zeigler let slip about the construction project.
The scene with Gene is much longer than the ones in previous seasons. He still has the metal Band-aid tin we saw Jimmy hiding in a ceiling in a previous season. Wait till you see what he keeps inside it! Gene makes a decision that is typical of Jimmy McGill. It remains to be seen whether or not it’s a good decision.
One of the hallmarks of Better Call Saul is scenes when we see some elaborate preparation for something but we have to wait to find out what it’s about. Last season we saw Jimmy and Kim cooking up the Huell Letter Drive but we didn’t understand what was going on until the payoff when the judge started complaining about all of the mail he’d received. If you liked that, you’ll be excited to see Jimmy’s visit to a thrift shop — I’m not allowed to tell you what that’s about, but I think you’ll like it.
Another thing we’ve seen again and again in both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul is when it looks as if a particular character’s goose is well and truly cooked, and yet he comes up with a scheme that deflects the danger. Last season, we saw Lalo track down Werner and speak to him on the phone briefly. Mike tells Gus that whatever Werner told Lalo was “not enough” to give away the plan to construct a secret meth lab under the laundry facility. But Mike didn’t anticipate the amount of time Lalo would spend mulling over Werner’s exact words, trying to puzzle out what he was referring to. Gus, however, seems not to have underestimated his opponent in this Cartel chess game, and he has an elaborate plan to show Lalo an alternate explanation in an effort to allay his suspicions — will it work?
Comparison to Breaking Bad
I have said that many people think Better Call Saul is a better show that Breaking Bad. I’ve been thinking about that, and I wonder if Breaking Bad appealed more to younger folks and Better Call Saul appeals to those of us who are a bit more, shall we say “mature.” If you’ve been watching Better Call Saul and you miss the scenes with the drug dealers and other ne’er-do-wells, you’ll be happy to know that we get to see more of the street criminal types this season due to Jimmy/Saul’s new clientele. But if you like Better Call Saul better because there’s more legal drama and less “language,” you’ll be glad to know we’ll still be getting courtroom scenes this season as we’ll see both Saul and Kim practicing law.
Another comparison between the two shows: both are character studies about a man going down a criminal path. But with Walter White, we knew almost nothing about his childhood and the family he came from. The first formative event we’re aware of in his life was when he sold his interest in Grey Matter, a company he started with Elliott Schwartz, only to find that the company flourished in Elliott’s hands, but thanks to inventions Walt was part of developing. We don’t see any childhood experiences that helped shape Walt’s character. But in Better Call Saul, we get a clear picture of Jimmy’s childhood, being raised the younger brother of Chuck the genius who could do no wrong, and we see that their mother never gave up on Jimmy and even asked for him with her dying breath, witnessed by Chuck, who never told his brother what their mother said before she died. Both shows are character studies, but Better Call Saul takes us further back to Jimmy’s childhood. Also, Better Call Saul gives us insight into the back story of Mike Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring, two characters we met in Breaking Bad but get to know much better in Better Call Saul.
Another difference is that we know what happens to many of the characters, because Better Call Saul takes place before the timeline of Breaking Bad. But we have some big question marks to keep us on the edge of our seats: we don’t know what ultimately happens to the main character after his stint as Gene the Cinnabon Manager in Omaha. We also don’t know what happens to Nacho Varga, Kim Wexler or Francesca the receptionist. I’m hoping we’ll learn more about their fate. But I can tell you we’ll definitely be seeing some Breaking Bad characters showing up this season, including at least on that I bet you won’t expect (and I’m not allowed to talk about before the episode airs).
Better Call Saul season 5 starts Sunday, February 23 at 10 pm ET/9c on AMC, and then moves to its regular time slot, so you get another episode the very next night, Monday, February 24 at 9 pm ET/8c. I’ll be writing recaps for each episode, so stop back, read my thoughts and leave me a comment telling me what you think.
But right now, leave a comment telling me what you’re most looking forward to in season 5.